Tim Koch writes:
Those who claim to know about these things had two big expectations at start of Henley Friday, 3 July. One was that the clash between the Universities of Washington and Princeton in the Ladies’ Plate would be a race worth watching. The other was that, based on the calm conditions, the tailwind down the course and the warm water, records would fall. Both expectations were fulfilled.
From the start, Princeton led the race of two of the giants of American college rowing and got to the Barrier first in 1.46, stroked by Julian Goodman, who had already raced that day, a replacement for the injured ‘number eight’. However, Washington, whose Varsity Eight has dominated the Intercollegiate Rowing Championships for the past five years, were never going to roll over and die and they came back to win by a length.
Hear The Boat Sing rather liked the start of the press release reporting on a day of broken records:
It was a busy morning for the Henley Royal Regatta historians as five records tumbled during a blistering start to day three. Scottish and Dutch crews were in celebratory mood with significant wins and records between them. Easily the most eye-catching record was the time of 6:03 set by Dutch eight ASR Nereus in the Temple Challenge Cup – a full nine seconds faster than the previous record….. Opponents Oxford Brookes University ‘A’ were also well inside the previous record, only losing a cracking race by a canvas, but that will be of little consolation to the ousted defending champions.
ASR Nereus’ stunning performance came less than an hour after their club colleagues in the coxed four had smashed the Prince Albert Challenge Cup record by two seconds (in a time of) 6:55….. However, their record only stood for two-and-a-half hours before Edinburgh University reduced it to 6:54 in their win over Goldie Boat Club ‘A’….
If that record was short-lived, Sir William Borlase’s Grammar School’s reign as joint-fastest ever in the Fawley Challenge Cup lasted just 75 minutes. They equaled Marlow RC ‘A’s best-ever Fawley Challenge Cup time of 6:39, set in 2013, as they beat Pangbourne College….. However, just as the record tables were being updated, Glasgow Academy raced 6:38 as they beat Sydney RC of Australia.
While giants clashed and records fell, innovation was heaped upon innovation when the television pictures that have been sent from cameras based on land and on water for the previous two days were joined by images from the air, beamed from an overhead drone. Regatta Chairman Sir Steve Redgrave said:
We’ve been fortunate that the first Regatta broadcast for more than three decades has coincided with the deployment of lightweight camera drones in live sports coverage becoming a reality…. Rowing is traditionally televised from the side or behind the race so to be able to offer a completely dynamic aerial picture to viewers on our website, on our official YouTube channel, and, for Finals Day on Sunday 5th July, on the BBC Red Button, is very exciting.
There was yet another ‘first’ at Henley this Friday but, sadly, it was a rather poignant one. At midday the Regatta rowers, spectators and officials stood for the one-minute nationwide silence called by the Prime Minister to remember those who lost their lives in the Tunisian beach attack. The two female single scullers in the Princess Royal Challenge Cup (Knapkova and Bailhache-Graham) crossed the finish line perfectly for start of the period of silence. The following umpire’s launch drifted almost silently towards the finish line, all its occupants standing with heads bowed. I was in the floating grandstand with a view of much of the Stewards’ Enclosure and had wondered if a loud, boisterous and (in a few cases) slightly intoxicated crowd could be moved to instant silence on command. Amazingly, they were. It was a very surreal experience to survey a packed but mute Enclosure. When the tannoy announced the end of the period of reflection, for a couple of seconds the silence continued, no one quite sure how to break it. Others may have a different view but, from my position, I heard one person shout congratulations to Mirka Knapkova who had crossed the finish line as the minute started, and it was this that gave people licence to resume their conversations again. At the other end of the course, the silence had unsettled the two Remenham Cup crews who had sat on the start line with heads bowed. A period of emotional reflection is not the best preparation for a race, reminding us as it does that there are far more important things in life than proving that one boat is faster than the other……
The official Day 3 highlights programme is on YouTube.
The Guardian online has produced a ‘Henley Regatta Visual Tour’ which includes a most unflattering picture of me – though I do not usually complain about the liberal media.
Some other images of racing that I captured on Friday:
People and places:
A reminder of Henley in cyber-space:
For the Regatta Draw click here.
For the Racing Programme click here:
Follow the results on Twitter @henleyresults
For Regatta news follow: www.hrr.co.uk
British viewers can watch via the Red Button and BBC On-line on Sunday 5 July.